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Racing Operator Shuns Media Man

Phumelela refuse to budge as it shuts door

Saturday’s WSB Summer Cup meeting had a dark cloud cast over it for South Africa’s most experienced racing television producer, Andrew Bon.

After a trying year for many self-employed folk in the racing industry, and particularly former Tellytrack contractors, the Equus Award winning journalist finds himself having effectively been declared persona non grata by Phumelela.

Andrew Bon receives his Equus Award in 2014 from then Phumelela Executive, Vee Moodley

This was the first Summer Cup meeting that Bon was not working at in close on 30 years.

While we interviewed him prior to the WSB Summer Cup, Bon requested that this item not be published prior to the race as a distraction from the thrills and excitement of the WSB Summer Cup, the Highveld’s final big day of a rollercoaster 2020.

The accomplished horseman, who looks after off the track thoroughbreds with his wife, says that in recent months, despite having been contracted by various clients to produce promotional and personal documentaries, he has had the door shut in his face by Phumelela management, who, he contends represent ‘old guard interests’.

The last straw for Bon came when he was refused access to Turffontein after being mandated by a leading owner, who is a registered colour hold with the MTC and the NHRA, to document his Summer Cup day feature runner.

Due to constraints on movement and the risks associated with Covid-19, the international owner is unable to travel.

The Sporting Post has had sight of the formal request by the owner to Bon.

“Having accepted the sadness of missing the final leg of the Triple Tiara right near the end of our major lockdown, I now find myself the victim of what can only be termed some ghastly prejudice. They are blaming Covid restrictions. But I know beyond any reasonable doubt that the restriction placed on me is now personal,” lamented Bon, who says that there is more than one individual stills photographer on course.

Bon explains that he was a guest of leading owner Laurence Wernars on Victory Moon Stakes day, but that he was subsequently accused by a senior Phumelela Executive of having ‘abused the situation’.

“Unfortunately when we allowed you on course as a ‘guest’ of an owner on Victory Moon day, you abused the situation and you have continued to conduct yourself disingenuously in your attempts to flaunt the rules ahead of Summer Cup day. Your latest ‘invitation’ is clearly nothing more than another lurk to get on course without a genuine mandate and in contravention of the COVID protocols that still apply.”

While Phumelela’s issues with Mr Bon are one thing, the potential slight cast on the  Mauritius-based owner by implying that he was conspiring with the media man, is puzzling.

A letter addressed to Phumelela by Bon’s legal counsel, leading KZN-based Attorney Bruce Armstrong, states that the veteran racing movie man is ‘simply trying to advance SA racing internationally which obviously enhances the SA racing product in these trying times’.

‘You appear to be intent on denying him the right to do so, without the authority, when the NHRA , Phumelela, and Gold Circle are subject to the provisions of PAJA and its review provisions. Please provide us with the Phumelela Board minutes in this regard’ stated Armstrong in his letter to Phumelela.

Phumelela fired back with a response from their legal counsel that suggested that Bon ‘has continuously and incessantly harassed, threatened and intimidated our Client, its representatives and/or employees’.

It states that Phumelela ‘owes no explanation as to its unfettered discretion as to whom it permits on any property it owns and/or occupies, for whatsoever reason.’

Bon is holding out hope that positive meetings this week with the management of the Racing Association, as well as a fascinating interview with Paul Peter on champion Summer Pudding’s plans, will keep him on the map and that sanity will prevail.

Efforts to contact Phumelela Executive Management for a response have not been successful.

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20 comments on “Racing Operator Shuns Media Man

  1. Ralph Fell says:

    The use of the word ‘ lurk ‘ demonstrates the almost thuggish behaviour of these miscreants at Phumelela. Not a week passes without intrigue and infighting occuring. I despair at the direction local racing is heading and the time is due to rid racing of this coterie of thugs..I once again pose the question. MOD – MIA?

  2. Herbie Vermeulen says:

    What a bunch of clowns !!!!! They should be bending backwards to accommodate Andrew for all he has done over the years. The way Phumelela are behaving, the covid situation may as well go on forever.

  3. david mollett says:

    Any regular visitor to the SP website will know Ralph Fell isn’t my biggest fan, but I have to agree with him 100% on his comment on Andrew Bon.
    The fact that “Bonski” – a guy with boundless energy for the sport – should be banned from the Summer Cup meeting beggars belief. His track record of covering big races here and overseas spans 20 years.
    That he has had to take legal advice is another cost this dumped Tellytrack employee could have done without – unfortunately he doesn’t have a newspaper behind him.
    In my early days on the Rand Daily Mail, I was banned from Germiston racecourse for something I wrote. The reaction of the editor was to send a message to the chairman stating “we won’t cover racing until Mollett is allowed access to the course.” They lifted the ban immediately.
    While Mary Slack throwing a lifeline to racing has rightly been applauded, she is obviously unaware of the dire financial situation sacked contractors at Tellytrack (the people who backed her) now find themselves in (my house is on the market). Yet the channel continues to be run by her opponents.
    If Chris Gerber was still alive, “Bonski” wouldn’t have had to seek out a lawyer. The much-missed businessman/owner would have seen the injustice in the ban for the simple reason it’s not good for the sport.

  4. Brian Fredericks says:

    My good friends of racing it is obvious there is something going on? Mr Bon of all people the face of racing how could they do this if not for him racing will be maybe Mr mollet u wright lets do this racing stop until Andrew Bon is allowed back

  5. Donald Bradshaw says:

    This Phumelela executive is not named , but whoever he or she is cannot hold a candle to Andrew Bon for what he has done over many years to promote the sport of horse racing !

    He is vastly experienced and a widely respected personality in the industry both nationally and internationally and should be appointed C.E.O. of Tellytrack not treated as ” persona non grata ” by the feeble minded !

  6. Gavin bechan says:

    Andrew bon is great for racing.. Why ban someone who has racings best interest at heart.. Very sad..

  7. Shanil Singh says:

    Whilst i feel for Andrew Bon the operator should also comment to give the other side of the story. One must also understand and respect more unpopular decisions coming our way that needs to be done to keep racing sustainable. The old guard needs change which should be welcomed.

  8. freeracer01 says:

    Phumelela, in true tradition, “owes no explanation to anyone”. What a bunch of complete (**edited). And they’re still there, same old destruction brigade. “Efforts to contact them unsuccessful”. Another call to MOD: Act Now, or stay limp-wristed and soft, forgive the past and oversee further deterioration of the industry and mockery by almost the same team who dragged racing into this morass.

  9. Jim McDermott says:

    Vee Moodley and/or whoever else was involved in this outrage should be aware that the incident that sparked the eventual downfall of the Cricket South Africa management was the banning of five journalists from entry into the cricket stadiums.

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Jim
      There was no reference to the NHRA being involved in Bongate

  10. Ralph Fell says:

    Greetings Dave Mollett, I will gladly smoke a virtual peace pipe. I have become incensed by the negativity abounding and found you partly culpable. Anyway harsh words never spoiled a friendship. On a sombre note, to quote Edmund Burke: ‘ The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. ‘ There appear to be numerous contributors to this page who display enormous knowledge and acumen who collaboratively should ensure that the aforementioned despots should be rooted out forever.

  11. Jim McDermott says:


  12. ALAN KING says:

    Mr bon now cries foul. Come on guys he has had the run of courses too long with his comments etc. from cape town to epsom to dubai. we all have lost jobs and perks in our time, cowboys dont cry. Wheres all your mates now, clyde basel , comes to mind. Nothing lasts forever. Sell racecards if you have to make a living. its sickening when these racing guys think the game owes them a favour. tell us the true story what went down. why run to a lawyer.

  13. Donald Bradshaw says:

    Mr King , no favour was asked of the industry , Mr Bon was commissioned by a NHRA registered colour holder to record his horse on summer cup day as that owner who is Mauritius based could not be on course. Phumelela should have bent over backwards to accommodate that owner who appointed Mr. Bon in writing.

    The only foul committed here is by Phumelela who have prevented an outstanding and widely respected racing journalist of conducting and completing that commission !

    You ask ” tell us the true story ” , well Mr. Bons story is in the article.

    What you should maybe have asked is why Phumelela have not responded to the last sentence in said article which is ” efforts to contact Phumelela Executive Management for a response have not been successful ” ?

  14. DavidSafi says:

    Just as Phumelela stand for destruction, Racing its a rush stood for nothing and the industry message became “LESS IS MORE”

    Andrew Bons non stop working commitment serves and promotes SA racing worldwide, his input cannot be measured, unfortunately since the inception of Corporatization unbridled power has been handed to executives and lesser men have profited hugely off the backs of the real contributors, if I’ve guessed right the senior Phumelela Executive is also a knowledgeable racing man and let’s hope he shifts to middle ground and puts racing first.

  15. Steve Reid says:

    You have got to ask the question regarding who exactly makes the calls on the day to day running of Phumelela business. I am pretty sure that the R4000 exc VAT an hour man will not get involved with these mundane irritations. The rumours – and they are just rumours at this stage – are that Patrick Davis has pulled the trigger. The sad reality is this guy must be getting approval from somewhere way above his pay grade to do what he has. He isn’t even on the same continent or hemisphere. That leaves the new bean counter, and the RA/Slack crowd who tell anyone who will listen that they are powerless to do anything until they take over. The more things change the more they stay the same it seems. The new dawn promised is but an illusion and the new crowd seem to be an extension of the old. What is it about this business that we cannot get people to run it who have racings core interests at heart?

  16. david mollett says:

    How’s this for a Monday morning bombshell for sidelined Tellytrack contractors.
    The racing grapevine has it that the remaining Phumelela staff have received a 10% bonus.
    First comment from Neil Andrews: “This has put me in a foul mood for the week.”
    This news comes just 24 hours after Charl Pretorius’ post in the SP berating MOD and saying: “Another cal for MOD: act now or stay limp-wristed and soft.”
    Presumably, any Phum bonus would have to be OK’d by the Business Rescue Practitioner, John Evans.
    Strangely, this bonus could work in favour of sidelined Tellytrack contractors.
    Mary Slack – being the kind lady she is as witnessed by her helping hand to the Solidarity Fund and horseracing – might call Evans and say: “John, I feel we should reward those people at Tellytrack who were in my corner when I needed them. We should look after them over the festive season and I am instructing you to give them 10% of their salaries they were receiving.”
    To be continued……………………..

  17. wayne fouche says:

    Jim McDermott talks about the downfall of cricket SA management. Looking at the “performance” of the team I would hasten to add …..and SA cricket.

  18. Donald Bradshaw says:

    I know you are an optimist at heart Molly , anyone in horse racing must be to remain sane especially in sunny South Africa , but in response to your post in respect of that elusive grapevine 10% my comment is ” pecked badly , stumbled , lost 10 lenghts at the start and thereafter took no further interest in running “

  19. david mollett says:

    You’ve got it 100% right Donald.

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